Thursday :: Dec 9, 2004

Drafting The Video Gamers


by pessimist

It's hard living in a country where at least 51% of the population have major portions of their frontal lobes electronically anesthetized by those who are politically intoxicated. For these people, the world is far too complex, and rather than deal with it, they hide behind charletans who claim to have a connection to The Almighty, who will gladly intercede on their behalf in return for a large contribution of worldy goods to the Earthly Intercessor.

Luckily, there are those who still can understand complexity and not be frozen in fear because of it.

Retired Army Lt. Col. David Hackworth - a man whose life was war, and a man who is not afraid to call for war if the cause is just - is just as fearless when it comes to standing up in opposition to a war that does not have legitimacy.

We've been wondering what it's going to take to awaken the Red Staters. Will it be the returning coffins of their kids?


Uncle Sam Wants Your Kids – Now!

Moms and dads are outraged about desperate Army recruiters on a relentless campaign to sign up their teenagers. High-school kids are actually running away from recruiters like they were George Romero’s living dead.

“Recruiters have called my son a minimum of 20 times in the two years since he finished high school,” a dad reports. “The phone calls usually come in clusters. I answered five calls in a two- or three-week span. Each time a recruiter calls, he receives the same polite, respectful response from me or my son ... no interest, and please take the name off the list. When asked why the name hasn’t been removed, excuses are made. While recruiters are brief with me, when my son is on the phone, the sales tactics are clever, prolonged and very high-pressure.”

"Play Grand Theft Auto kid? Halo 2? Like to see the blood splatter and the badies shatter?

"Well, let me tell you about some of the great games Uncle Sam has in store for you to play!"

$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$

This is a long post about the future Bu$hCo plans for your children. Please read all of it.

Please.

"For instance, kid, we have this game we call 'Speed War!'. All you have to do is this:"


As Chaos Mounts In Iraq, U.S. Army Rethinks Its Future

Shortly after the U.S. deposed Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003, the Army kicked off its annual "war game," a mock battle in which U.S. forces set out to topple another Middle Eastern regime.

Set 10 years in the future, the game featured a force built around a light, fast, armored vehicle that the Army planned to start producing in 2010. The Army attacked from seven dizzying directions and, when the game ended, appeared on the verge of shattering the enemy force.

"We walked out and patted ourselves on the back and said 'marvelous job,' " says retired Lt. Gen. William Carter, who commanded U.S. forces in the game. "We didn't understand that what we were seeing in those games wasn't victory."

Today, the exercise stands as a stark example of how senior Army leaders and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the years leading up to the Iraq invasion were guided by a flawed understanding of how future enemies would fight.

Before the war began, Middle East experts, along with some Army officials, warned that stabilizing and governing a fractious and ethnically divided Iraq would be much harder than toppling Saddam Hussein.

Now, the escalating insurgency in Iraq is showing that lightning assaults can quickly topple a regime -- but also unleash problems for which small, fast, high-tech U.S. forces are ill-equipped.

"We're realizing strategic victory is about a lot more than annihilating the enemy," says one senior defense official in Mr. Rumsfeld's office. Victory also requires winning the support of locals and tracking down insurgents, who can easily elude advanced surveillance technology and precision strikes.

A Sample Training Session

Since taking command of the 5,000-soldier regiment this summer, Col. H.R. McMaster, an early critic of the Army's vision of fast, high-tech wars, has put his troops through weeks of mock raids. He has staged convoy ambushes and meetings with role players acting as local Iraqi leaders. Such training is becoming common throughout the Army.

In a training exercise last month, Lt. Doug Armstrong sat down with two fellow soldiers -- both Iraq veterans -- who were pretending to be the mayor and police chief of an Iraqi village. Lt. Armstrong, 23 years old, quickly asked where the insurgents in the town were hiding. The mock mayor shrugged and demanded food and water for the people. He chastised the lieutenant for parking his Humvee in the village wheat field.

About five minutes into the meeting, Col. McMaster cut it short. "Be a little more personable," he told the young officer. "Ask about the mayor's family. Build a relationship before you ask him where the bad guys are."

Col. McMaster then asked the lieutenant if he noticed anything unusual in the room where he was meeting with the mayor. The lieutenant shook his head no. "Who is that dude on the wall?" Col. McMaster asked, pointing to the only poster tacked to the small office's walls. The lieutenant shrugged.

A sergeant standing nearby answered that it was Muqtada al Sadr - the radical Shiite cleric.

"You've got to notice those things," Col. McMaster said.

Trying to win the cooperation of locals is a huge change for a service that until recently saw war primarily as the clash of traditional armies. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the top U.S. commander in Iraq during the first months of the war, recently told colleagues he recalls watching Iraqis loot chairs, artillery shells and other weapons.

Instead of having his troops intervene, he and his commanders were focused on finding senior military and Baath Party leaders. Gen. Wallace now says those leaders had become largely irrelevant to the chaos breaking out around the country. "There was a point when the regime was no longer relevant, no longer running the country. We were slow to pick up on that," Gen. Wallace says.

As a result, U.S. commanders missed an opportunity to shift forces to other tasks -- such as policing and reconstruction -- that would have helped win the support of a deeply skeptical population. Some senior officers were simply overwhelmed by the number of tasks facing them as the country came apart.

"The complexity was much greater than what we trained and exercised for prior to this campaign," Gen. Wallace says.

Would you trust your kid to men who fail to design their wars for efficiency and effectiveness? How many of our KIA would still be alive if such considerations were in place before Bu$hCo initiated its impatient assault?

Displaying The Game Options

"And then there's the cool uniform we'll give you, and just look at all the accessories you can have!"


Rumsfeld and friends lie and mislead on vehicle armor

mikepridmore's diary :

A soldier put it bluntly to Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers at a town-hall meeting in Iraq last week: "The question is, are we going to get up-armored Humvees?" The soldier, who identified himself as a member of a unit operating in "five of the six red zones in the country," noted that the doors on their Humvees "are not as good as the ones on the up-armored Humvees. . . . We lost some soldiers due to them." Another soldier asked, "Do we foresee an increase across the board so we maybe can get more additional armored kits, or armor, hazard pay, weapons, basic health and comfort items for soldiers overseas?"

Gen. Myers's answers were not encouraging. He said there are about 1,400 vehicles that still need armor plating in Iraq, and although production is ramping up, the military can turn out only enough armor kits for about 220 to 225 vehicles a month. At that rate it will take six months to meet the military's combat needs. "It's not a matter of resources; it's a matter of how fast can we build these things and get them over here," he said.

Myers made it sound like the military was building them itself and he purposefully misled on the numbers. Instead of 1,400 underarmored vehicles, the real number was a lot closer to 12,000. From April 2004, a month before the Myers statement, on msnbc.com:

When Hart died in a small-arms ambush in mid-October, the Army had no official plan to "retrofit" most of the 12,000-odd Humvees in Iraq. This in spite of continuing attacks on convoys and complaints from combat units that they were taking unnecessary casualties in the thin-skinned Humvees.

Until late last month, the Army's official guidance on the issue of hardening Humvee armor was a recommendation to troops to put sandbags on the floorboards to deaden the impact of mine explosions. Some soldiers say the military should have addressed the issue much more quickly.

"They don't like calling attention to things like this, but the problem was obvious right away," says a U.S. Marine officer in Iraq who asked not to be identified. "The war mutated from armored combat into a guerrilla campaign, and suddenly the tanks were parked and we moved out into the population without much protection."

"And remember all that fun you had playing Grand Theft Auto where you could beat the crap out of some beeyatch because she wouldn't put out? "We teach you how to do that for real!"


Navy Says Some SEALs Photos Taken for Intelligence Purposes, Using Approved Tactics

Preliminary findings of a military inquiry suggest that some of the recently published photographs of Navy special forces capturing detainees in Iraq were taken for legitimate intelligence-gathering purposes and showed commandos using approved procedures, a Navy spokesman said Monday.

The photos, which have drawn a strong reaction in Arab media, also appear to show Navy SEALs sitting or lying on top of hooded and handcuffed detainees in the back of a pickup truck.

Senior officers at the SEALs headquarters said other photos are "consistent with the use of tactics, techniques and procedures in the apprehension of detainees," Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender said.

He cited as an example a photo in which a uniformed man is holding the head of a prisoner to pose him for a picture for "identification purposes." A gun with an attached flashlight is being used to illuminate the detainee's face for the photograph, Bender said.

In another photo, a commando standing with upraised fists next to a detainee is using hand signals to communicate with other troops who do not appear in the image, according to Bender.

The two photos are part of a larger group of mug shots of detainees, whose faces were blacked out in the pictures posted online. Some drip blood, which experts on the law of war said was not by itself a sign of abuse. It was unclear whether the detainees resisted capture by Navy special forces.

The Unintended Consequences Of Ill-Conceived Actions

Taking photos of prisoners for administrative or intelligence purposes is an exception to Navy regulations that generally forbid unofficial photos of prisoners of war.

The photos were widely published in Arab media, including one on the front page of the daily Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram showed three hooded prisoners pressed against one another on a floor with what appear to be white sheets wrapped around their torsos.

The photo caption read: "Signs of a new scandal."

And this is what results from such stupid arrogance:


A Daily Look at U.S. Iraq Military Deaths

As of Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004, at least 1,280 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1001 died as a result of hostile action, the Defense Department said.

The figures include three military civilians.

Military Civilians? What the hell are they????

Since May 1, 2003, when President [Geroge W. 'Mission Accomplished'] Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,142 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. The AP count is four higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday [12/8/4]. That includes at least 892 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The Bu$hCo 'Coalition of the Killing' Suffer As Well

The British military has reported 74 deaths; Italy, 19; Poland, 13; Spain, 11; Ukraine, 9; Bulgaria, 7; Slovakia, 3; Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, 2 each; and Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary and Latvia 1 death each.

A Voice Of Reason


Tortured principles

YEARS FROM now, the mistreatment of Afghan war detainees at Guantanamo and Iraqi war detainees at Abu Ghraib will likely rank with the internment of Japanese-American civilians in World War II as a violation of the nation's principles.

In a confidential report to the administration based on visits to Guantanamo in June, the International Red Cross found that detainees had been subjected to psychological and physical forms of coercion that were severe enough to be "tantamount to torture."

A court proceeding last week also demonstrated how the United States is turning its back on its own due process standards in its treatment of detainees. For decades, evidence obtained from defendants after torture has not been admissible in US courts. But on Thursday, a deputy associate attorney general told a federal judge that there was nothing to stop military officials at Guantanamo from using torture-induced statements in deciding whether a detainee should be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant.

In another case last month, a federal judge found that the procedures at Guantanamo for determining enemy combatant status do not comply with the Geneva Conventions and US law, which state that any battlefield detainee is presumed to be a prisoner of war until a "competent tribunal" puts him in the less protected status of enemy combatant.

Far from correcting policies that violate medical and legal standards, President Bush has nominated for attorney general his chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who in 2002 wrote a memo calling parts of the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and "obsolete."

Congress should thoroughly investigate conditions at the detainee camps and, if necessary, pass laws to keep the administration's human rights violators in check. Congress must act to steer the nation back toward compliance with the Geneva Conventions and US law.

And is not the 'rule of law' the guise behind which Bu$hCo continues to hide its greedy oil-grab policies, which are to be protected by a 'government elected by the Iraqi people'?


Iraqis May Extend Election Amid Violence

Iraq may modify plans for its first free election to give people more time to vote next month, officials said on Wednesday as suicide bombers and gunmen again struck Sunni Muslim towns north and west of the capital.

Responding to a suggestion this week by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that voting could be spread over two or three weeks, the Independent Electoral Commission said it would consider such a proposal if the government were to make it formally.

The Interior Ministry, which with its U.S. military allies faces a massive task to provide security at thousands of polling stations on Jan. 30, also endorsed Allawi's idea, saying voting over several days could reduce vulnerable lines in the streets.

Meanwhile, back in the Puppet Master's booth, ...

But in Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli dismissed the idea, telling reporters "Where we are today is where we were yesterday, various suggestions notwithstanding. January 30 elections are across the country..."

A State Department official who asked not to be named said the department was not considering changing its election plans because the idea so far had too little support among Iraqis.

Male Bovine Excrement! In reality it has too little support from the Bu$hCo (mis)Management!

They aren't being helped by reports such as this:


Iraq faces descent into chaos, says CIA chief

The Bush administration's robust assertions that the situation in Iraq would improve with next month's elections were badly shaken yesterday with the leak of a gloomy end-of-tour cable from the departing CIA station chief in Baghdad.

The bleak assessment, reported in yesterday's [12/7/4] New York Times, warned that Iraq would descend even deeper into violent chaos unless the government was able to assert its authority and deliver concrete economic improvements.

How can they when pResident of Vice Dick Cheney routes all the war funding to Halliburton so he can 'deserve' his lucrative multinational corporatist recompence?

' LA, la, la, la, - I CAN'T HEAR YOU!'

The classified assessment was sent to CIA headquarters in Virginia late last month as the officer ended a year-long tour in Iraq. It was bolstered by a similar assessment from a second CIA officer, Michael Kostiw, who serves as a senior adviser to the agency chief, Porter Goss.

The outlook offered by the station chief echoes several similar warnings from officials in Washington and Baghdad. An intelligence estimate prepared for the White House last August said that Iraq's security situation could remain tenuous at best until the end of 2005, and warned the country was at risk of civil war.

As station chief, the unnamed CIA official supervised more than 300 operatives, the largest intelligence operation since the Vietnam war, and their assessment carries authority.

Ah! There it is! Vietnam! I KNEW that acrid stench emanating from Washington seemed familiar!

"You see, the terrorists understand what is at stake. They know they have no future in a free Iraq, because free people will never choose their own enslavement. They know democracy will give Iraqis a stake in the future of their country."

"You see, the Viet Cong understand what is at stake. They know they have no future in a free Vietnam, because free people will never choose their own enslavement. They know democracy will give Vietnamese a stake in the future of their country."
- Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, 1965-1975

Familiar also are the topics of these several articles:

Hell, NO! We Won't Go!


Marines, Sailors Deploy; One Sailor Refuses To Board

About 6,000 Marines and sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group 5 departed from the 32nd Street Naval Station San Diego Monday aboard six ships bound for the Western Pacific.

One sailor assigned to one of the ships refused to board the vessel to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq. He acknowledged that the action he is planning could result in a court martial and imprisonment. "I know other people are feeling the same way I am, and I'm hoping more people will stand up," he said. "They can't throw us all in jail."

"I just want people to see how people feel about this. It's not just a few crazy liberals talking to the media to make money. I'm not making any money, I'm going to jail for a year for this. I want to do because I feel that strongly about it and I know a lot of people feel this way," Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes told 10News.

Paredes, 23, wore a T-shirt that read: 'Like a cabinet member, I resign.'


Deserters: We Won't Go To Iraq

The Pentagon says more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted since the war started in Iraq.

60 Minutes Wednesday found several of these deserters who left the Army or Marine Corps rather than go to Iraq. Like a generation of deserters before them, they fled to Canada.

What do these men, who have violated orders and oaths, have to say for themselves? They told Correspondent Scott Pelley that conscience, not cowardice, made them American deserters.

"I was a warrior. You know? I always have been. I’ve always felt that way -- that if there are people who can’t defend themselves, it’s my responsibility to do that," says Pfc. Dan Felushko, 24.

It was Felushko's responsibility to ship out with the Marines to Kuwait in Jan. 2003 to prepare for the invasion of Iraq. Instead, he slipped out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and deployed himself to Canada.

"I didn’t want, you know, 'Died deluded in Iraq' over my gravestone," says Felushko. "If I'd gone, personally, because of the things that I believed, it would have felt wrong. Because I saw it as wrong, if I died there or killed somebody there, that would have been more wrong."

It wasn't fighting that bothered him. In fact, he says he started basic training just weeks after al Qaeda attacked New York and Washington –- and he was prepared to get even for Sept. 11 in Afghanistan. But Felushko says he didn't see a connection between the attack on America and Saddam Hussein.

The Moral Dilemma

Felushko had signed a contract to be with the U.S. Marine Corps. "It's a devil's contract if you look at it that way," he says. "(What) it basically comes down to, is it my right to choose between what I think is right and what I think is wrong?" asks Felushko. "And nobody should make me sign away my ability to choose between right and wrong."

What does he say to the families of the American troops who have died in Iraq?

"I honor their dead. Maybe they think that my presence dishonors their dead. But they made a choice the same as I made a choice," says Felushko. "My big problem is that, if they made that choice for anything other than they believed in it, then that's wrong.

"The government has to be held responsible for those deaths, because they didn’t give them an option."

Taking The Conscience Option

Canadian law has changed since the Vietnam era. Back then, an estimated 55,000 Americans deserted to Canada or dodged the draft. And in those days, Canada simply welcomed them. But today’s American deserters, such as Brandon Hughey, will need to convince a Canadian immigration board that they are refugees.

Hughey, and other deserters, will be represented before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board by Toronto lawyer Jeffry House. His clients will have to prove that, if they are returned to the United States, they wouldn't just be prosecuted for what they did -– they would be also be persecuted. How will House make that claim?

"People should have a right to say, 'I'm not fighting in that war. That's an illegal war. There's illegal stuff going on the ground. I'm not going,'" says House. "And anyone who says soldiers should go to jail if they don't fight in an illegal war is persecuting them."

It’s something House has experience with. In 1969, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin, got drafted, and spent the rest of his life in Canada.

House's legal strategy will focus on his contention that President Bush is not complying with international law. But how will he defend volunteers who signed a contract?

"The United States is supposed to comply with treaty obligations like the U.N. charter, but they don’t," says House. "When the president isn’t complying with the Geneva Accords or with the U.N. charter, are we saying, 'Only the soldier who signed up when he was 17 has to strictly comply with contract? The president doesn’t have to?'"

What did Hughey think about the case for going to war? "I felt it was necessary if they did have these weapons, and they could end up in our cities and threaten our safety," says Hughey. "I was supportive. At first, I didn't think to question it." He says at first, he was willing to die "to make America safe."

While Hughey was in basic training, he didn't get much news. But when he left basic training, he started following the latest information from Iraq. "I found out, basically, that they found no weapons of mass destruction. They were beginning to come out and say it's not likely that we will find any -- and the claim that they made about ties to al Qaeda was coming up short, to say the least," says Hughey. "It made me angry, because I felt our lives were being thrown away as soldiers, basically."

[CBS News Correspondent Scott] Pelley read letters about Hughey's desertion that were sent to the editor of a San Antonio newspaper. "It makes me sad to know that there's that much hate in the country," says Hughey. "Before I joined the Army, I would have thought the same way. Anyone who said no to a war, I would have thought them a traitor and a coward. So, in that essence, I'm thankful for this experience, because it has opened my eyes and it has taught me not to take things on the surface."

However, he adds: "I have to say that my image of my country always being the good guy, and always fighting for just causes, has been shattered."

Deserting is a seiously drastic step to take. Why would that be something a soldier would consider doing? Read this - and understand:


Judge Nixes Troop Request to Stay in U.S.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth refused to issue a temporary restraining order allowing Spc. David Qualls to remain in the United States, where he is home on leave. He is scheduled to fly to Iraq on Friday. "It appears to me the extension was legally proper," Lamberth said during the hourlong hearing. "I find no likelihood of success on the merits."

Qualls, 35, is one of eight soldiers challenging the "stop loss" policy that lets the Army extend enlistments during war or national emergencies to promote continuity and cohesiveness on the battlefield.

The lawsuit contends the enlistment contracts are misleading because they make no explicit reference to the policy. The soldiers also say no one told them they could be kept in the service beyond their discharge date.

Justice [HA! - ed] Department attorney Matt Lepore contended a ruling for Qualls could irreparably harm the military and "open the floodgates" for thousands of soldiers to try to leave.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the policy is "a sound principle" that is "well understood" by soldiers. "My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used," he said.

Qualls signed up for a one-year stint in the Arkansas National Guard in July 2003 but has been told he will remain on active duty in Iraq until next year.

His pay stub now shows his term of service expiring on Dec. 24, 2031.

WE DOAN' NEED NO STINKIN' FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT!


Col. Hackworth on military retention efforts

We’ll soon have 150,000 U.S. troops stuck in the ever-expanding Iraqi quagmire, a number that will probably grow even larger before Iraq holds elections presently scheduled for the end of January ’05.

Maintaining such a force is a logistical and personnel nightmare for every grunt in Iraq. And according to several Pentagon number crunchers, it’s also driving the top brass bonkers.

Meanwhile the insurgents continue cutting our supply lines and whacking our fighting platoons and supporters, who attrit daily as soldiers and Marines fall to enemy shots, sickness or accidents. Empty platoons lose fights, so these casualties have to be replaced ASAP.

Since this tragic war kicked off in March 2003, the United States has evacuated an estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties from Iraq back to the Statesleaving 50,000 slots that have had to be filled.

The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: “The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. ‘Do not join the Guard.’ I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A.”

By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.

Are they all from the Red States?

Shades of our last years in Vietnam.

“The bottom line is that Recruiting Command is in trouble,” says another recruiter with almost 30 years of service. “The Army has re-instituted ‘stop loss,’ which is basically a backdoor draft. They’re stopping people from retiring or completing their enlistment and leaving the Army. They do this fairly often, mostly in August and September, depending upon how far behind they believe they’ll be at the end of September."

The job of finding fresh bodies to keep our units topped off falls mainly to the Army Recruiting Command. But the “making-quota” jazz put out by the Recruiting Command and the Pentagon to hype their billion-dollar recruiting effort with its huge TV expenditure and big expansion of recruiters during the past year, is pure unadulterated spin.

Not that this is anything new. The Command has a sorry reputation for using smoke and mirrors to cover up poor performance. “I believe the Army will have to drastically change what they offer to enlistees to overcome what’s happening in Iraq. The war is ugly, and not many kids want to enlist to be blown up.”

This is the sort of guy the military wants:


U.S. Army Deserter Seeks Canadian Asylum

A former U.S. Marine in Iraq, testifying Wednesday at a hearing for an American military deserter seeking asylum in Canada, said several men in his unit were "psychopaths" who enjoyed killing unarmed Iraqi civilians who posed no threat.

Massey told the tribunal he got caught up in the frenzy and shot at civilians as well. "I take full responsibility for my actions," he said.

"We deliberately gunned down people who were civilians. I became so concerned because I felt that Marines were honestly enjoying it. I saw plenty of Marines become psychopaths. They enjoyed the killing."

Massey, 33, of Waynesville, N.C., said his 7th Marines weapons company killed more than 30 civilians during a 48-hour period in April while stationed at a checkpoint in the southern Baghdad district of Rashid. The victims included unarmed demonstrators and a man who drove up in a car and raised his hands above his head in the universal symbol of surrender.

"I know in my heart that these vehicles that came up, that they were civilians," he said. "But I had to act on my orders. It's a struggle within my heart."

The orders, he said, were to shoot at anyone who drove into what is known as the "red zone" surrounding the checkpoint because they could be suicide bombers.

"The rules of the game are simple, kid! You just shoot anything in sight that's still moving, just like Castle Wolfenstein!"


US Marine claims unit killed Iraqi civilians

Mr Massey said that in some incidents, Iraqi civilians were killed by between 200 and 500 rounds pumped into four separate cars which each failed to respond to a single warning shot and respond to hand signals at a Baghdad checkpoint. He also said Marines killed four unarmed demonstrators, and more Iraqis the next day during another spell of checkpoint duty in the occupied Iraqi capital.

"I was never clear on who was the enemy and who was not," said Mr Massey.

"When you don't know who the enemy is, what are you doing there?"

That is indeed the question that Americans should be asking. Why, if stabilizing their nation and creating a truly democratic Iraqi government is so important, aren't Iraqis doing this work?

It's because they didn't decide to take action to create a democracy out of a totalitarian dictatorship imposed upon them by the United States. Instead, they are fighting to oppose the latest version of it.

Just as 'Vietnamization' was a huge failure in Vietnam, so is 'Iraqification' a great failure in Iraq.

In conversations with reporters about the assessment yesterday, agency officials admitted that efforts to train local Iraqi security forces were not keeping pace with the growth of an increasingly violent insurgency. So far, the official strength of the Iraqi security forces is put at 83,000 although only 47,000 have been fully armed and trained.

The truth is so blatantly obvious even the First Liar can't create a fable that Red Staters will believe:

"Some Iraqi units have performed better than others," Bush told thousands of camouflage-clad Marines flanked by giant American flags and heavily armed Humvees. "Some Iraqis have been intimidated enough by the insurgents to leave the service to their country."

Whose country are they REALLY serving, Dumbya?

Speaking of serving, what about those who answered your call to dominate the world for oil profits? What are you doing for them right now?

Here in America, healthy civilians have problems getting adequate health care, much less unhealthy veterans. But we aren't alone - active duty troops are in the same health-careless boat!

Here's what Bu$hCo proposes to do about it:


Army Teams Face Surgeon Shortage

A severe shortage of surgeons in Iraq has left U.S. Army medical teams scrambling to handle the largest number of casualties since the Vietnam War, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.

Despite the numbers — the Army has fewer than 50 general surgeons and 15 orthopedic surgeons in Iraq at any one time — advances in battlefield surgical techniques and care mean a greater percentage of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are surviving their injuries than in any previous American conflict. At least as many U.S. troops have been wounded in combat in the Iraq war as in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 or the first five years of Vietnam.

90% are surviving their injuries, compared to 76% in Vietnam. In that war, almost all of the wounded who died did so before they could reach MASH units-military surgery facilities — some distance from the fighting. But the survivors today often have injuries so severe and maiming that their prospects are uncertain, Gawande writes.

Gawande writes about the case of an airman who lost both legs, his right hand and part of his face. "How he and others like him will be able to live and function remains an open question," Gawande writes.

That's a question I would love to hear our wrong-wing friends - and you know who you are - answer intelligently. That means without any Bu$hCo talking point lies.

Blast injuries from suicide bombs and land mines are up substantially in recent months and have proved particularly difficult to treat without risking infection, Gawande writes. Eye injuries have caused blindness among a dismaying number of soldiers. And Kevlar body armor, which early in the war proved dramatically effective in preventing torso injuries, provides inadequate protection against bomb blasts.

Soldiers who survive the initial blasts and field treatment are suffering at high rates from later complications, including pulmonary embolisms and deep venous thrombosis, the article states. Some of those soldiers have died of the complications. According to the article, 5% of the wounded being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington have had pulmonary embolisms, a condition in which a blood clot travels to the lungs. Of those, two have died.

Army medical teams are also worried about what Gawande calls an epidemic of multi-drug-resistant bacterial infection in military hospitals. Among 442 medical evacuees seen at Walter Reed, 8.4% tested positive for the infection — a far higher rate than ever seen among wounded troops.

"Just as the rest of the military structure was unprepared for the length of the war and the evolution in the nature of the war, so has the military medical establishment been understandably unprepared for that," Atul Gawande, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and a former senior health advisor to the Clinton White House, said in an interview.

With just 120 general surgeons on active duty, the Army has been forced to use urologists, plastic surgeons and cardiothoracic surgeons to conduct general surgery on soldiers in Iraq. Many surgeons have been deployed for more than two years in Iraq, and military planners are contemplating pressing some to return again, Gawande writes.

The doctors work in difficult circumstances. In many cases, the military has taken over Iraqi hospitals, and the facilities are flooded with a surge of civilian patients that doctors are unable to treat. With no clear directive from the Pentagon on treating civilians, some doctors refuse to help even pediatric patients, for fear the children could be booby-trapped with bombs, Gawande writes.

We torture them. We injure them. We refuse to medically treat them.

Is there any wonder why they resist us so? These have to be steeled in their opposition to Bu$hCo rule, especially when they know that Bu$hCo cares nothing for its own soldiers.

One American paper takes Bu$hCo to task for this:


The way our country treats returning soldiers is a national shame

Supporters of our invasion of Iraq cheerlead from their armchairs for the women and men of our military.

You know who you are.

Some folks send packages of goodies and letters to soldiers and sailors. Veterans for Peace stand on a street corner each week asking to bring our troops home. These are all examples of different ways we express our support for U.S. soldiers.

But what about support when they come back?

There are reports of U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, being secretly transferred from Andrews Air Force base, under the cover of darkness, to military transport planes and dispersed out to military hospitals across the country.

Why? So that we do not see them.

Coffins of dead U.S. soldiers cannot be photographed returning home.

Why? So that we do not see them.

Is this the kind of support we want to give to our soldiers? Hiding them from the public eye? Relegating them to the streets to fend for themselves?

Are we trying to hide something?

Is it easier to support the mythical, invisible image of a brave soldier fighting for "glory" and "freedom" than it is to support the very real limbless, psychologically damaged or lifeless person returning from Iraq?

Why are we increasing spending in Iraq to make more disabled veterans, and then cutting spending to care for them when they come home by closing VA hospitals and decreasing benefits?

Why, indeed! This post rationally assumes that these veterans even HAVE a home.

This comes from The Washington Times - the Moonie-owned Bu$hCo Oil War cheerleading squad!


Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.

Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of a wave.

"This is what happened with the Vietnam vets. I went to Vietnam," said John Keaveney, chief operating officer of New Directions, a shelter and drug-and-alcohol treatment program for veterans in Los Angeles. That city has an estimated 27,000 homeless veterans, the largest such population in the nation. "It is like watching history being repeated," Keaveney said.

"I drove off in my truck. I packed my stuff. I lived out of my truck for a while," Seabees Petty Officer Luis Arellano, 34, said in a telephone interview from a homeless shelter near March Air Force Base in California run by U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans.

Arellano said he lived out of his truck on and off for three months after returning from Iraq in September 2003. "One day you have a home and the next day you are on the streets," he said.

In Iraq, shrapnel nearly severed his left thumb. He still has trouble moving it and shrapnel "still comes out once in a while," Arellano said. He is left handed.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand -- and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

"It is all about numbers. Instead of getting quality care, they were trying to get everybody demobilized during a certain time frame. If you had a problem, they said, 'Let the (Department of Veterans Affairs) take care of it.'"

Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that as of last July, nearly 28,000 veterans from Iraq sought health care from the VA. One out of every five was diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the VA. An Army study in the New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that 17 percent of service members returning from Iraq met screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD.

Around one-fourth of all homeless Americans are veterans, and more than 75 percent of them have some sort of mental or substance abuse problem, often PTSD, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition.

More troubling, experts said, is that mental problems are emerging as a major casualty cluster, particularly from the war in Iraq where the enemy is basically everywhere and blends in with the civilian population, and death can come from any direction at any time.

This is the same sort of crap that Bu$hCo spreads about al-Qaeda running about loose in America while they claim to be dealing with this 'threat' by eliminating our Constitutional rights and freedoms. Bu$hCo wants us to become just like these shattered men (and some women) because we'd offer them no problems in their Pinky and the Brain quest to take over the world.

It doesn't help that some in the world are playing the Bu$hCo game:


Blair Rules Out Iraq Civilian Death Toll Probe

British Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected a call Wednesday for an independent inquiry into the civilian death toll in the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The call came in an open letter to the premier made available to Reuters and signed by over 40 diplomats, peers, scientists and churchmen. Any totaling of the Iraqi civilian war dead could embarrass Blair ahead of a general election expected next May in a country that mostly opposed the U.S.-led war.

Britain and the United States have suffered around 1,070 military losses in the war since it began in March 2003 but the countrywide casualty count is not known.

Blair, however, said he saw no need for an inquiry. "Figures from the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which are a survey from the hospitals there, are in our view the most accurate survey there is," he told parliament.

Defense Minister Geoff Hoon, visiting British troops in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, stressed that Iraqis themselves were best placed to get the necessary data. "We want the Iraqi authorities to be in a position to provide that information so that we can all have an accurate picture of what is going on," he told BBC radio.

Iraq's health ministry has said 3,853 civilians were killed between April and October this year but critics say the lack of figures for the previous period makes a full tally imperative.


Japan OKs Plan to Keep Troops in Iraq

Japan's Cabinet voted to keep Japanese troops in Iraq for another year Thursday, extending the country's largest overseas military operation since the end of World War II. "We must not give in to terror," Prime Minister Junichiro Koiuzmi said in a nationally televised address. "The Iraqis are trying to build a government with their own hands. We must support this. The Self-Defense Forces are needed for this end."


NATO eyes expanded Afghan, Iraq roles as US seeks harmony

With the potentially distracting issue of the Ukraine election crisis on hold pending an apparent resolution to the deadlock, NATO's governing board, the North Atlantic Council, met to consider expanding the Afghan and Iraqi operations.

But the 26-nation alliance is still struggling with divisions over the war in Iraq, which last year plunged NATO into its worst-ever crisis, and US Secretary of State Colin Powell sought Wednesday to finally heal the rift.

US officials expect a handful of countries to make manpower pledges but efforts to recruit forces have been hampered by a row between the US and its supporters and five anti-Iraq war NATO members who are refusing to participate.

France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg are refusing to allow officers assigned to NATO's two main command centers to take part in the training mission.

Washington fears the spat is sending the wrong message to Iraq and may set a dangerous precedent for nations "opting out" of future alliance operations.

We can't have any of that! No dissent in the Bu$hCo ranks will be tolerated!


Congress Moves to Cut Aid to Allies That Support World Criminal Court

Amid persistent tensions between the United States and its allies, the Republican-led Congress is expected to ban tens of millions of dollars in U.S. economic aid to some of its closest friends overseas unless they formally agree to exempt U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Analysts here agreed that the ban will also further aggravate U.S. ties with the UN and Europe, the ICC's major champions, at a time when a growing number of Republican lawmakers are clamoring for the resignation of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and cutting U.S. financial support for the world body because of the oil-for-food scandal. "This will simply add salt to the wounds," said one Congressional aide this week.

"Now is a time when the U.S. should be reaching out to assist countries interested in developing a more democratic and peaceful world," said Raj Purohit, legislative director of Human Rights First (HRF), the New York-based group formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

"For the Congress to demand immunity (from the ICCs jurisdiction) for U.S. citizens at a time when members of the U.S. armed forces are clearly shown to have been involved in torture and abuse of prisoners will touch a raw nerve internationally," said Richard Dicker, international justice program director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

To put pressure on countries to sign "bilateral immunity agreements" (BIAs) with Washington, Congress passed a law in 2002 that gave the administration the discretion to cut off military aid to non-NATO countries that ratified the ICC. Over the past year, the administration has done precisely that with about three dozen countries, almost all of them poor nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Central Europe.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, James Kolbe, warned last summer [passing this law] could have serious consequences for Washington's interests. "I dont see how that will help us in the war against terrorism," he said at the time.

It is also certain to feed growing international concerns about the Washington's unilateralism. On his trip to Canada last week, Bush tried to allay these concerns, but, as the Congressional aide said this week, "actions speak louder than words."

Let's read some of these words:


Bush Asks Americans to Support Soldiers

"The time of war is a time of sacrifice, especially for our military families," Bush said, wearing a tan military jacket with epaulets. "I urge every American to find some way to thank our military and to help out the military family down the street. In this season of giving, let us stand with the men and women who stand up for America, our military," Bush said.

OK! Let's do Just that!


Rumsfeld faces tough questions from troops

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is composed mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly three years after the war in Iraq.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked.

A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.

So here we stand in support of our troops. Why AREN'T our troops adequately equiped to do the job their nation sent them to do?

Let's now help out that military family down the block:



Rumsfeld Query No Shock to Soldier's Wife

Regina Wilson wasn't entirely surprised to see her ex-husband, a guardsman bound for Iraq, on television Wednesday challenging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with a tough question.

"He is always like that," she said. "I don't think he understands the concept of biting one's tongue. It wouldn't matter if it was (President) Bush himself standing there. He would have dissed him the same."

Let's take up a fund and pay for Spc. Wilson's ticket to Washington, D.C. I'd GLADLY spend money to see one of our soldier's put the question to the First Liar and see what he does to show how well HE supports our troops - like he wants all of us to do!

It would certainly get column inches in papers which are already on top of this issue:


The overextended military reaches far and wide

National Guard units are the nation's citizen soldiers. Their members come from all walks of life, from machine shop and factory, from field and schoolhouse and many occupations besides. They are the linear descendants of the few patriots who once mustered at Lexington to oppose the forces of a tyrannical empire.

They were the Army then. They are merely indispensable to the Army now. Instead of being the standing reserve, these latter-day militia men (and women) are being sent into battle in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The distinction between professional soldier and civilian soldier hardly exists.

The Guard members are likely to do tours of 18 months. As other Americans see this happening, and mouth the daily platitude "we support our troops," they can justify this unequal sacrifice by saying that these good people signed up to do it.

That begs the question: How long can so much of a burden be placed on the comparative few so that the mass of Americans can rest easy, free of duty and care?

This ignores the thought that just maybe we shouldn't be trying to make the world do our bidding at the point of a gun. It would render much of the rest of this editorial moot.

Eventually, the strain on those who serve -- the sheer unfairness of the situation -- will take its toll. The fact is that U.S. forces are drastically overextended and the time has come to rethink deployment policies.

Supporting the troops also means being fair in what the nation asks of them.

Being fair includes equiping our soldiers to protect themselves as best they can reasonably do, as Spc. Wilson pointedly asks of 'The' Donald 'Duck and run' Rumsfeld.

"Give us the tools and we will do the job" British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once told President Franklin Roosevelt, who responded with alacrity. Our soldiers would say - and deserve - the same as Churchill - even if the job they are asked to do by their government (sic) is criminal in nature.


U.S. Special Forces Punished for Iraq Prisoner Abuse

Four U.S. troops serving on an elite special operations task force have been disciplined for abusing prisoners in Iraq, including unauthorized use of Taser electric-shock weapons, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

The task force's activities became known on Tuesday with the release of a June document stating its members punched and abused Iraqi prisoners in front of Defense Intelligence Agency agents and threatened the agents to try to silence them.

But there is hope that we can again restore the tarnished honor and lost respect our military once rightfully deserved. We are a better nation than this.

Over the past four years, we have witnessed the greatest loss of a very valuable type of American power in our history: our power to lead, to persuade, and to inspire.

As Joseph Nye has pointed out, this power will not convert the extremists who oppose us no matter what. Those people must be eliminated, pure and simple. But it can thwart their plans, by denying them new recruits, undermining their appeal and their message, and unifying, rather than dividing, Americans and the rest of the international community.

Rather than bolstering this asset, which has helped to make us the most powerful country on earth, I'm afraid we have squandered it.

In March, the Pew Research Center found that one year after the start of the war in Iraq, "discontent with America and its policies has intensified rather than diminished" across the world. Majorities in Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey believe that the U.S. is exaggerating the terrorist threat. They doubt the sincerity of the U.S. war on terrorism and say that it is an effort to control Mideast oil and dominate the world.

The Center found that "at least half the people in countries other than the U.S. say as a result of the war in Iraq they have less confidence that the United States is trustworthy. Similarly, majorities in all of these countries say they have less confidence that the U.S. wants to promote democracy globally."

Our motives are questioned, our public justifications and explanations viewed with skepticism, and our post-9/11 public diplomacy efforts have too often missed the mark, substituting pop music broadcasts, brochures and videos for the kind of respectful dialogue and engagement that could convince generations of angry young people that their humiliation is not our goal.

We have relied upon a doctrine that fails to recognize that our enemies do not rely on explicit state sponsorship of terrorism. By focusing primarily on possible state sponsors of terror, the administration failed to realize that our terrorist enemies operate effectively in weak and failing states and without the backing of national governments. This is a new enemy waging a new war against us, but the administration appears still to be stuck in an old cold war mindset.

We have muddled our language and our focus by conflating other priorities with the fight against terrorism, costing us credibility around the world and shattering the unified and resolved global coalition that emerged to support us in the aftermath of 9/11. The president's team was devoting its time and attention to selling the world and the American people a war in Iraq with fundamentally flawed intelligence, manipulative and misleading characterizations, and rosy predictions that proved horribly, dangerously off-the-mark.

The administration's Iraq policies in the first term painted a picture of an American government that isn't so sure it rejects torture; that isn't competent and careful enough to properly vet intelligence presented in major speeches and briefings; that willfully rejects the lessons of history and the advice of its own experts; that is surprised when disorder results in massive looting; that misleads taxpayers regarding the costs and commitments entailed in its policies; that spends billions upon billions without any effort to even budget for these extremely predictable costs; and that is willing to politicize issues fundamental to our national security in the ugliest possible way. We deserve better.

Certainly the brave men and women of the U.S. military who are fighting every day to make this effort in Iraq work deserve better. We do not honor them by accepting lousy, irresponsible policy in the halls and hearing rooms of the Capital and then leaving our soldiers holding the bag on the ground, when policy collides with the hard truth.

The administration's record of the past four years suggests a foreign policy careening out of control, driven by ideologues who want to test their theories in the laboratory of the Middle East one minute, by domestic political considerations the next, and by spiteful attempts to punish those who disagree with their methods the next.

Our national security, the stability of the world that our children will inherit, our troops — even our country's honor — are on the line. Congress has an obligation, not to oppose every administration effort, but to reassert our role in helping to steer the ship of state wisely rather than recklessly. I look at our foreign policy over the past four years, and I know that America is so much better than this.

If we were to get back our honor and international respect - hard-earned from American efforts in saving the world from the very fascism which now threatens to undermine this, our own nation - then our leaders would not have to take the drastic steps of protecting themselves from the very troops they lead:

Ok, you gotta love this. Everything is going so well in Afghanistan that we had to FRISK OUR OWN SOLDIERS entering a US military cafeteria today in Afghanistan. Why? Because Dick Cheney was there to have lunch with them.

What, we're now afraid our own soldiers are going to shoot Cheney? Boy, you guys must be really confident of how well things are going in your little war if you're now afraid of our own soldiers killing the vice president. But morale is REALLY good, so pay no heed.

This was just on ABCNews World News Tonight. Hopefully our friends at Crooks and Liars will get the video of the frisking, it's great.

As of the time of my writing this post, they don't have it.

$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$*$

It's been a long rant. There is a lot of information in it. But this is what your children are facing in the near-term - a miserable death (or near-death if they manage to come home alive) in the service of Bu$hCo's mad desire to rule the world.

Send this post to your Red State relative who voted for 'moral values'. That way, when their kid comes home in a box, you can tell them you told them so.

They have it coming to them.


Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use

FAIR USE NOTICE

This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 7:13 AM :: Comments (8) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!